Patrick Grady, 41, stood down on Tuesday after a formal complaint was lodged alleging he touched a 19 -year -old male party worker inappropriately in a London pub in October 2016. But colleagues raised concerns about the Glasgow North MP following a Christmas party that year, where it’s claimed he groped two researchers before keeping his job. Anonymous letters sent to former Commons Speaker John Bercow in 2017 and 2018 revealed staff felt Mr Grady was “being protected”.
The probe comes as the party struggles amid a public battle between the First Minister and predecessor Mr Salmond over the Scottish Government’s botched handling of complaints against him.
Tory Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson challenged the First Minister over legal advice received during his judicial review.
Documents published last week – after Ms Sturgeon was questioned at the Holyrood inquiry – revealed that the Government ploughed on with its court battle with Mr Salmond despite clear warnings from legal advisers that it was heading for a costly and humiliating defeat.
Ms Davidson said her initial reluctance in December 2018 to concede the case ended up costing the taxpayer as much as £200,000 on top of already mounting legal fees.
She also said that legal advice suggested if the government had conceded earlier it could have “reset” the complaints process – but a failure to do so had failed the two women complainers”.
Ms Davidson said: “I don’t put this lightly, this week again has shown sexual complainants cannot trust the ruling party to deal with their complaints properly.”
The SNP leader accused the opposition of “chasing phantoms” in the hope of finding “horrors underneath” and instead should “focus on what is there” among the “unprecedented” publication of “substantive” legal advice into the public domain.
Ms Sturgeon added: “Ruth Davidson has, perhaps belatedly, started talking about the women and I welcome that.
“That is the issue right at the heart of this.
“I will be haunted for probably the rest of my life by the way in which the government, through an error – an error I think made in good faith – let down those women.
“I’ve apologised for that. I wasn’t involved in the investigation so I wasn’t aware of the error at the time, but as head of the Scottish Government I take and feel responsibility for that.”
She also told Ms Davidson a review of the Government’s complaints handling procedure, being carried out by Laura Dunlop QC, would be made public.
The clashes came after Deputy First Minister John Swinney survived a vote of no confidence thanks to the Green Party, amid a furious row over his refusal to hand over key documents to the Salmond inquiry.
However the Tories also intend to bring forward a no confidence vote in Ms Sturgeon.